Hugo's, Target to keep mask policies, while some small businesses let customers decide
Wearing masks at some businesses will now be up to the customer, but some larger retailers are sticking with their mask policies.
Grand Forks County’s mask mandate was rescinded on Monday, March 8, by County Health Officer Joel Walz. For businesses in the county, that means having to decide whether to keep their own mask policies.
According to a city of Grand Forks social media post, businesses are free to enact their own mask rules, despite the termination of the County Health Officer’s order that required them. But while some businesses, including Hugo’s Family Marketplace and Target, will continue their mask policies, others have decided to relax their rules.
“What a question. (It's) the question of the day since (Monday),” said Kay Derry, owner of Northern Roots Boutique, on South Columbia Road. “Even from the beginning it's been hard. If you require people to wear masks some are mad, because they don't want to so they won't shop. (If) you don't require them then you're not helping fight the battle, and neither one is true. You're just trying to do the best for it.”
Wearing masks, Derry told the Herald, will now be up to the customer, though she recommends their use. Staff at Northern Roots, Derry included, will wear masks during business hours.
Cheryl McGillis, who owns the juice and smoothie bar The Shrink Tank, said she is also leaving mask decisions up to customers. Employees can continue to wear them until they feel comfortable enough to stop. McGillis said she feels reasonably confident in the situation, in part due to a plastic barrier that separates customers from employees.
But that doesn’t mean masks will be disappearing anytime soon. A Centers for Disease Control order requires masks on all public transit systems, including buses and trains. The orders went into effect on Feb. 1, and extends to Grand Forks International Airport, as well as all other commercial airports. Some Grand Forks retailers will continue to require masks for shoppers.
One of those businesses is Hugo’s, and Lisa Swanson, communications director for Hugo’s Family Marketplace, said the supermarket chain intends to follow CDC guidance on mask wearing. The business has had a mask requirement in place since before Gov. Doug Burgum initiated a statewide mandate on the evening of Nov. 13, 2020. The state requirement was rescinded on Jan. 18.
Swanson said Hugo’s is fortunate to have not had to close down any stores during the pandemic, something she attributes to the company’s COVID-19 mitigation policies. Those policies also create a place where people feel safe shopping.
“We hear from many people thanking us for requiring masks as they feel it creates a safer shopping experience for all,” Swanson said. “We have had some people concerned that if the mask mandate were lifted, we would end our requirement. We are happy to assure them that we will continue with our mask policy for the foreseeable future.”
Those who don’t wish to wear masks, she said, can make use of online shopping or curbside pick-up or delivery.
Target will continue to require shoppers to wear masks, including those who have received the coronavirus vaccine, according to Brian Harper-Tibaldo, a spokesman for Target’s corporate office. The company, he said, will continue to follow CDC guidelines, and employees and customers will need to wear masks and maintain distance while shopping.
Much like at Hugos, Harper-Tibaldo said customers who don’t wish to wear masks should consider the company’s variety of contactless shopping methods.